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Last Thursday, the Queer Student Union hosted a drag show at the University Center Hub as an effort to raise money for the group to attend the 2013 Western Regional LGBTQIA College Conference.
During the fundraiser, numerous drag performers lip-synced and danced to Top 40 songs, including tracks like “Diamonds” by Rihanna and “Beauty and a Beat” by Justin Bieber. The WRC, which is being held Feb. 13 to 17 at UC Santa Cruz, provides an opportunity for students from colleges across the region to meet and discuss issues facing the LGBTQIA community.
Decked out in false lashes and bright lipstick, third-year art major Raymond Rivera was one of the many students lined up for the event a half hour before doors opened.
“I love drag, and some of my friends are in the show,” Rivera said. “I expect to see some really good dance numbers, a lot of good outfits, makeup and hair.”
Queen of Pride Santa Barbara 2011 Isis Magiq’elle said she was serendipitously taken aback by the reception she received from the UCSB audience after her performance that night.
“It was amazing. I don’t usually get this type of crowd in the club scene. It was nice to see and hear a refreshing crowd,” Magiq’elle said. “They’re very accepting and embracing of the drag community. It kind of caught me off guard.”
Queer Student Union co-chair and second-year Feminist and Chican@ studies major Melba Martinez said that the event’s turnout was a huge success.
“We were expecting probably about 150 people to 200, and from what I hear there were at least 300 people here, so it definitely exceeded our expectations,” Martinez said. “It’s really expensive to take people to these conferences … we’re trying to take as many people as possible. This really, really helps.”
Along with admission funds, the Queer Student Union received additional revenue from generous patrons’ tips to performers.
“It seems like people had a lot of fun, which is always the number one thing to provide … We try to provide a safe space so that people can come and have fun and also [have] an alternative form of entertainment,” Martinez said. “Drag shows aren’t everywhere in Santa Barbara. We have one 21 and over club [downtown] that has drag performances once in a while, so it’s nice to bring queer culture to UCSB and Isla Vista.”
Fourth-year English major, seasoned drag performer and co-host of the event Andrew Hamlin said the drag show aroused a poignant sense of community for performers and attendees alike.
“When I’m a boy, my name is Andrew [Hamlin]. I’m a fourth-year English major with a specialization in Medieval Literature. When I’m in drag, my name is Jenna Scyde, I major in fabulosity and I am one-year-old,” Hamlin said. “This is not my first drag performance by a long shot … however, this was the first — to my knowledge — drag show UCSB has held outside the Pride Festival … definitely a show that UCSB has not had before.”
According to Hamlin, Thursday’s drag show allowed performers and attendees to experience an event the entire LBGTQIA campus community rarely gets to enjoy together.
“It’s a part of my life that I don’t get to share often because these events typically happen in bars where people have to be 21,” Hamlin said. “So this is really special because [everyone] was able to go and experience the show. It was a lot of fun.”
A version of this article appeared on page 1 of February 4th, 2013′s print edition of the Nexus.